After Russia barred access to Meta Platforms Inc’s key social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, demand for methods to circumvent the restrictions surged.
In reaction to Meta’s decision last week to enable social media users in Ukraine to post slogans like “Death to the Russian Invaders,” Instagram access in Russia was suspended starting Monday. Facebook has already been blocked due to what Moscow claimed were limits on access to Russian media on the social media platform.
According to data from monitoring firm Top10VPN, demand for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that encrypt data and hide a user’s location rose 2,088 percent higher on the eve of the Instagram ban than the daily average demand in mid-February.
Russia is fighting to control the flow of information, suffocating Western social media corporations with traffic slowdowns and, in the case of Facebook and Instagram, outright bans, as a result of unprecedented western penalties over its activities in Ukraine.
As a result of cyber attacks on Russian and Ukrainian websites, demand for VPNs has already risen in the region.
Last year, Russia banned many VPNs but did not completely block them as part of a broader strategy that opponents say stifles internet freedom.